Providing investigative services tailored to the business community introduced me to small business owners. Many of them, as well as myself, with questions about the logistical and legal issues faced by businesses. This blog was started to address the questions. Although I’ve moved on from the investigative field there is still a desire to offer common sense solutions to small business owners. Sometimes we cover non business issues. Hope you enjoy reading. Please feel free to share.
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Monday, May 8, 2017
What’s in your wallet?
The salary question
The movement to remove the criminal history question from
employment applications has been steadily gaining popularity over the last
several years. Ban the Box (referring to the checkbox asking if an applicant
has ever been convicted of a crime) laws have been enacted by cities, counties,
and states. Most affect only government applications but a few apply to the
private sector. They are currently 26 states and 150 cities and counties.
Maryland is one of those states and the laws applies to state government
applications only. While it is not against federal employment laws (past bills
in Congress have failed) the EEOC strongly encourages employers not to base
hiring decisions based on the applicant’s criminal history.
Another interview question under scrutiny is the salary
question-“What is your current and/or most recent salary?” Proponents feel that
asking the question will help correct salary disparities by not basing offers
on past pay. Arguing that pay should be offered for the position, based on
market values, not the person. Employers feel that the new laws are more
government intrusion that affects hiring and hurts their overall business.
The attention to this question comes from the equal pay for
women campaign, which is gaining popularity on political platforms. Women earn
roughly 80 cents per dollar compared to men based on information form the U.S.
Census bureau. This pay disparity tends to follow a woman throughout her career
when new salary offers are based on current or past history.
Pay equity laws
As with Ban the Box, once the wave starts rolling it does
not take long for cities and states to follow suit. The National Conference of
State Legislatures lists 43 states with equal pay laws that prohibit
discriminating between the sexes. However, Massachusetts was the first to enact
a law that specifically prohibits paying a woman less than a man.
In August 2016, the Governor of Massachusetts signed into
law the Pay Equity Act, which will take effect July 1, 2018. Under this law it
will be illegal for employers: to pay men and women differently for comparable
work, screen applicants based on past salaries, contact the applicant’s former
company reference salary, and restricting employees from discussing their
After Massachusetts big cities quickly passed laws.
Philadelphia became the first to enact such a law, which was to take effect in
January 2017, but is delaying implementation awaiting a federal ruling on a
petition to block the law. In April 2017, New York City barred employers from
inquiring about salary information.
This issue is gaining attention at the federal level as
well. In September of 2016 the Pay Equity for All Act of 2016 was introduced to
the United States House of Representatives and is still in committee. The
original proposal would make it illegal to screen prospective employees based on their previous wages
or salary histories;ask
for previous wages or salary; or fire or retaliate against any current or prospective employee
because the employee opposed disclosing salary information.
Maryland’s equal pay act took effect October 1, 2016 when TheEqual
Pay for Equal Work Act of 2016 was enacted. The law applies to employers
of any size and extends protections to gender identity as well as sex and bars
employers from prohibiting employees from discussing or disclosing wages or
those of another employee. The full law
can be found at Maryland Equal Pay for Equal Work
See our blog archive for more Ban the box and hiring